Something Fishy

Monday morning started off grey and damp after Sunday's rain and wind.

I had some errands to run and P was off to help an elderly friend by painting the outside of her house, so he would be gone most of the day.  Peace and quiet!

After visiting the bank and dropping off the weekend newspapers to a friend - (he likes to read them even though they may be two days out of date) - I drove home the long way.  The road is less busy and  I love the views along the lanes.

By the time I reached home and put on a pot of coffee, the sun had come out.  I walked down to take a look at the fish pond and saw that everything had started to wake up.  The pond plants were in flower, albeit a bit battered after the weekend storm, and the fish were darting about.  We have around 30-40 of them now - they just keep on multiplying.....

I hope Spring is back again now and will not be disappearing again behind more storm clouds, although the forecast for the rest of this week is not looking good. 

World Naked Gardening Day

Apologies in advance if the picture offends.

My sister just sent me this.  I shall have to check the weather forecast for 4th May.



I don't know if this is still around nowadays but we used to feed our budgie on Trill when I was a child.

He was called Peter and lived to a ripe old age.  He was a great mimic and had our old trimphone ring off pat.  We used to rush to answer the 'phone only to find it was just Peter making the noise.  

He could also copy exactly my dad's distinctive smoker's cough.  My dad even taught him some mild swear words, which we found very amusing.

These days I use mixed seeds a lot in cooking as part of my quest for a healthy diet.  P often remarks, "Oh no, we're having Trill again?"  

This morning I suddenly thought about one of my aunts. I don't know why, unless it was because the town where she lived was mentioned in a recent news item (about yet another stabbing).  Mum used to take us on the bus to visit her.  My aunt had learning difficulties but managed to bring up two children and care for her husband who was losing his eyesight.  Anyway, what does this have to do with Trill?  Well, I distinctly remember that in her kitchen - the room she spent most of her time - one wall was taken up by a large run of bird cages.  I can't remember how many budgies she had but it was quite a lot.  If you can picture the scene, sitting around her kitchen table with a cup of tea when the birds all start squawking and flapping their wings.  A huge cloud of sawdust, seed husks and much worse rising up and gently falling into your tea.  

Needless to say, I often refused her offer of tea when we visited.

Soggy Saturday

Storm Hannah is gently brushing past us and bringing with her some drafty and moist weather.

As usual, travel on and off the island is affected, meaning some disruption for travellers.  It is a pity for those wanting to get across to London for the marathon tomorrow as they have been training hard and it would be a pity for them to miss it.

The wet and windy weather started yesterday.  I was doing my volunteering shift in the Wildlife Trust gift shop and there were noticeably fewer visitors out and about.

Poor P had a fell race yesterday evening when winds were predicted to gust between 40 - 50 miles per hour.  When he arrived home at 8 p.m. he was quite literally soaked to the skin and shivering.  Luckily I had switched on the cental heating earlier as the temperature had dropped to less than 10C.  He stripped off his sodden kit there and then on the kitchen floor and went straight into the bathroom for a long, hot shower.  The things he does for fun!

One Day in Athens

I am aware that my blog over the past few days may have become a little like that slightly annoying neighbour. You know the one, reasonably pleasant most of the time but with an irritating tendancy to invite you round to see their boring holiday snaps.

Well, I promise that this is the last Greek Holiday post and no more trips away planned now until October, when we have a 3 week visit to Tasmania.

So, back to Greece.  We caught the 11 a.m. intercity bus from Nafplio to Athens.  It was a modern, air conditioned coach and a smooth journey, stopping only at a half dozen or so towns along the way.  All the tickets have allocated seat numbers and the tickets have to be bought in advance of travel.  

We do have a surprising knack when travelling of attracting some of the more eccentric characters on our journeys.  On this bus trip we were amused to follow the antics of one particular lady *of a certain age*. She had boarded at Nafplio and seated herself in the first row, talking the whole time on her mobile 'phone.  A couple of stops along the route, a gentleman and his wife got on and spoke to her - it appears that she was in their seat.  She was very reluctant to move and just carried on shouting even louder into her 'phone. Eventually she gathered all her possessions and got up.  By this time the bus had moved on again so she was swaying around a little before collapsing rather heavily into the seat right behind P.  The next 2 hours of the journey were spent listening to her - still very loud - conversation on the 'phone.  I actually switched off my hearing aids at one point as it was so bad.

Anyway, we arrived safely at Kifissos bus station in Athens and walked across to the taxi rank to catch a taxi to our hotel. We had been warned that some Athens taxi drivers could be a little *dodgy* and sure enough, the first one on the rank did not seem exactly trustworthy.  He had started to pick up the girl in front of us in the queue and we were signalled by the taxi driver behind him that he would take us. As we approached the second taxi, the first driver abandoned his passenger and came up to us asking where we were going.  The poor girl looked a little bemused by being abandoned and I didn't like his attitude. We got into the second taxi and our driver said that that happened a lot.  He was not amused.  He was a very nice man who explained about some of the taxi scams and what to look out for.  We trusted him and asked for his card so that we could book him to take us to the airport later.

Our hotel was situated right beneath the Acropolis and we had booked an Acropolis view room with a balcony.  I took this photo that evening as we sat out on our balcony enjoying a glass or two of wine we bought from the mini market around the corner.

We spent the late afternoon and early evening just walking around the streets close to the hotel and scouting out what was available nearby.  As we were both tired, we decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant - something we don't usually do - however, we had been given a voucher for free wine with a meal if we ate there so that clinched it.

We only had the next day in Athens and would be returning to the airport the morning after that.  Our plan for the day was to visit the new Acropolis Museum after breakfast, handily right beside our hotel, then to walk around the main city centre sites and, depending on the queues, go up to the Acropolis and visit the Parthenon after lunch.

The Acropolis Museum was well worth a visit.  We got reduced entry by virtue of being senior citizens!  Sections of the ground floor outside and inside were glassed over so that you could see the excavation and restoration works going on underneath.

There is a wealth of information in the museum and it was quite unsual for us to be so close to the actual artefacts moved down from the Acropolis - statues, friezes etc - and not have them placed behind glass. Of course, you are not allowed to touch them but it would be so easy to just reach out and place your hand on something that was originally from the settlement and temples of the ancient Greeks.    No photography is allowed inside the museum but here is a link to show you what it is like...

After visiting the museum we walked along to Hadrian's Arch,  apparently built around 132 AD to celebrate the arrival of the Roman emperor Hadrian. 

It stands beside the site of the Temple of Zeus. Although only a few columns remain standing, it is not hard to imagine how colossal this would once have been.

From here, we walked along to Syntagma Square and the old royal palace, now housing the Greek Parliament, to take a peek at the National Guard with their wonderful uniforms and pom pom shoes.

From here we walked down to Monastiraki Square, a very busy throng of locals, tourists, street hawkers and scammers all coming and going between the metro station and the flea market.

We bought a smoked salmon roll from the bakery on the square and sat on a low wall in front of the ruins of Hadrians Library to watch the action.  At one point we noticed that there was a young man lying face down on the square. We were not sure if it was a scam or not as we had heard that this was a typical distraction ploy for pickpocket teams. Other people were also hesitant to go over to help but eventually two women bent down to speak to him. A minute or so later three police officers arrived and spoke to him. Miraculously he then jumped up, fully recovered and was led away. It is very sad that scammers like this mean that perhaps someone who is genuinely ill may just be ignored in future.

After watching the fun for a while we set off to walk the streets of the Plaka district, Athens' oldest and most picturesque area.

Some very spooky looking dummies outside one of the many tourist shops.

We had intended to make our way up to the Acropolis at this point, to spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the Parthenon and the temples, however, some very menacing dark clouds were rolling in so we hurriedly returned to our hotel for a cup of tea and to wait out the rain. 

The rain shower turned into a very violent thunderstorm and we had a ringside view of the magnificent lightning flashes from our room. We didn't bother with the balcony at that point. We were both quietly reading when there was a sudden huge flash of lightning and the loudest clap of thunder either of us have ever heard. It was directly overhead and we later discovered that the lightning had struck the Acropolis, causing burns to 4 people and demolishing a ticket booth.  The site was closed for the afternoon so we never did get to visit.

We ventured out once the rain eased off and had dinner in one of the crowded touristy restaurants nearby. It was OK but we would have preferred something more authentic if the weather had allowed us to venture further afield.

A very pleasant breakfast the next morning then Kostas the taxi driver took us to the airport for our - delayed - flight back to London.

One last photo, taken from our hotel room balcony...

A Grand View

If you visit Nafplio in the Peloponnese you cannot ignore the Palamidi Fortress.  It is a vast ruin atop a rocky outcrop towering over the town.

It was built by the Venetians in the early 1700s but was captured by the Ottomans only a year after its completion.

From the 1800s it was used as a prison and the steps from the town at the bottom up to the top were built at that time - apparently 857 in total and pretty steep at that.

For our last day in Nafplio we decided to visit the fortress as it sounded like a very interesting site historically.  However, I was not up for the climb via the steps so we strolled down to the harbourside to catch the little hop-on-hop-off tourist bus which takes 5 minutes to get there via a road at the back of the hill.

We arrived just after 10 a.m. and it was very quiet - none of the tourist coaches had yet arrived so we were able to have the place almost to ourselves for an hour, before the hordes arrived.  As with the Acronafplia Castle, there were several information boards scattered around to give an insight into the fortress's history.

Again, above the arch is the Venetian winged lion symbol of St Mark

It is not a place to visit if you are unsteady on your feet, in fact in some places it is downright hazardous.  I think it was the first time in ages that P and I had to hold hands!

Needless to say, the views from the top are pretty outstanding and well worth the visit.

Back on terra firma, we spent the rest of the day strolling around the New Town which was interesting - fewer tourists and a proper working neighbourhood rather than the more touristy Old Town where we were staying.

We were going to be heading to Athens for our last full day in Greece so popped into the little bus station ticket office to buy our tickets for the 11 a.m. bus the next day. P was surprised to discover a fellow Aussie refugee in the ticket office - the lady behind the counter was a Greek Australian who had been born and brought up over there but moved back to Greece a while ago.  They enjoyed a little chat about Aussie *stuff* which made his day.

Another couple of cafe stops and our last day in Nafplio was coming to an end.
Just time for another stroll around the streets soaking up the sunshine.

A Long Walk and Wildflowers

After our first two days of rain and grey skies, the third morning dawned bright but cool, with the promise of sunshine all day.

We decided to try the coastal footpath walk around the headland to Karathona Beach.  But first, breakfast on the terrace!
We started the walk at the harbourside in Nafplio where it was still a little chilly. We stopped off at the bakery to buy filled baguettes for our picnic lunch and also bought a bottle of water to take along.

The first part of the footpath is stone paved and leads to the nearby beach of Arvanitia, with some great views back towards the bay.
Looking down on the footpath and Arvanitia Beach

From Arvanitia Beach the path becomes gravel and winds around the base of the cliffs.  We were quite amused by this sign at the beginning of that section of the footpath - we think it must have been put up following recent landslides and just left there.

After about an hour and a half we reached the start of Karathona Beach.  It is set in a wide, curving bay with grassy areas and a couple of small buildings which were used as cafes.  

By this time I was feeling the need to use the bathroom but after walking the entire length of the beach was dismayed to find everything closed and padlocked - no loos!  The beach was virtually deserted, apart from a handful of people with a windsurfing school at one end and a man herding these goats.

We would have liked to spend more time here but the need for a bathroom became more pressing so we decided to retrace our steps.

At the start of the beach section there is a derelict concrete structure, probably originally some sort of tourist accommodation.  The exterior walls had been colonised by bees which had built these fantastic nests all over the concrete walls.  It was very busy with hundreds of bees coming and going so I couldn't get too close.

We found a bench along the path and stopped to eat our lunch and have a bit of a rest. We had been walking around 2 hours so I needed to sit for a while and admire the scenery.
The first thing I did when we got back to Nafplio was head to the nearest cafe-bar to use the bathroom!  Of course, it was beer o'clock  by then so we had to have our Fix...

Everywhere we went around Nafplio that week there was an abundance of beautful spring wildflowers.  I have already shown some of those we saw up at the castle but here are some others that caught my eye.

After our beer, we decided to take another walk around the town as it was very warm and sunny by now and we were able to see more than on the previous two days of showers.

And finally, an idea of how we spent our evening.......